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August 27, 2012

"Ignore the prophets of doom – this is a golden age for the world"

Featuring these important paragraphs:

Take global poverty, a subject we have heard plenty about from ministers justifying the £9 billion overseas aid budget. Britain has signed up to the so-called Millennium Development Goals, set in 2000 and accompanied by sermons from Gordon Brown about the “arc of the moral universe” bending towards justice. It was the beginning of boom times for the overseas aid industry, despite its woeful track record. The first goal was to halve the proportion of the world’s population living on a dollar a day by 2015 – an undeniably noble aim.

Earlier this year, the World Bank made an astonishing discovery: the target had actually been met in 2008, seven years ahead of schedule. This staggering achievement received no fanfare, perhaps because the miracle had not been created by Western governments but by the economic progress of China and India. Their embrace of capitalism had invited a flow of trade and investment, which was not halted by the crash. Capitalism meant that houses replaced mud huts and vast swathes of the Third World rose from their agrarian knees. British consumers buying cheap shirts in Asda were, in a very real sense, helping to make poverty history.

See also "The Next Great Growth Cycle".

Today’s techno-pessimists say technology and America have plateaued. Such naysayers flourish during economic recessions. They have been wrong in every one of the 19 economic downturns we have experienced since 1912. They’re wrong again.


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A good book is Indur Goklany's "The Improving State of the World".


I like to think of myself as a "reality-based pessimist" in that I sincerely doubt that human motives and behaviors are likely to change much any time soon, but that the outputs and outcomes may change drastically. That appears to me to be why so many doomsters get it wrong.

I grew up on the farm and go back periodically, and the change over 50 years is just incredible. And if you compare that to the stories of my grandfather's 50 years prior to that it is even more incredible.

What happened? Well, the normal human desire to get more [production, profit, whatever] for less [labor, investment, whatever] lead 'good' farmers to seek increasingly sophisticated farming tolls, equipment, technologies, etc. And please remember that on some level farmers are probably the most conservative, cautious producers in the world. [If you don't believe me, try selling the on the idea of doing something different than what they believe is currently working for them. They tend to concentrate on what doesn't seem to be working, and they can be hard to change even then.]

Now imagine what can happen in less conservative or innovation-driven professions.

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